So far for Kendre Miller, it has been a period of fits and starts as a New Orleans Saint.
The euphoria over being drafted in the third round this year was calmed by him missing offseason workouts due to a knee injury, and a promising showing in training camp and in the preseason game against the Chargers was shaded by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first two regular-season games.
But the rookie running back is set to make his NFL debut Sunday, when the Saints (2-0) face the Packers (1-1) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
"I'm very excited, just getting back into football shape and working so hard to get back," Miller said. "It just feels good to be back.
"You know, it's been hard, most definitely, because preseason I had a little knee issue and then right when we were about to get started for real, I had the hamstring. But it feels good to be back."
It comes at an opportune time for New Orleans. The Saints entered their Monday night game against Carolina with two running backs active, Jamaal Williams and Tony Jones Jr. Williams injured his hamstring in the game, and the team finished out the game with Jones and Taysom Hill taking some reps in the backfield.
With Williams possibly sidelined for a few weeks, and Alvin Kamara not scheduled to return from his NFL suspension until after the Saints play the Packers, Miller's return will help relieve Jones and give the offense a punch.
"I just want to see that violence that I know that he has, that he runs with," quarterback Derek Carr said of the 6-foot, 220-pound Miller. "I just can't wait to see him put that on full display.
"When you're a rookie running back people are coming to find you, so hopefully, he tries to go find them. And keep that mind-set, keep that confidence. Hopefully if he's out there, and he gets to play, that's what I would be looking forward to. To see what he does on a game day – not just a preseason game, but a real regular season game – will be real interesting to watch."
Miller said he's just as eager to initiate.
"I feel like you've got to set the tone, especially in the NFL," he said. "You've got certain people that'll try you. You're a rookie, everybody wants to try you, so it's about setting a tone and coming out running with an attitude."
The missed time pushed Miller's development behind, but when he was on the field he showed signs of why he was drafted, especially in the preseason game against the Chargers, when he ran 10 times for 23 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 36 yards, including a diving 27-yarder down the left sideline.
"There's nothing more valuable than the actual experience and being on the field," Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said. "Obviously, they can be in the meetings, they can be on the field watching and getting some mental reps, but the most important thing is when they can get the actual reps themselves.
"In the opportunities that he has had, he has proven that he can get open and catch the ball."
Sunday, his opportunities will come at one of the NFL's historic venues.
"At Lambeau Field, it's going to be like a childhood dream," Miller said. "I was an Aaron Rodgers fan growing up, so it'll definitely be cool just to see that crowd. They've got one of the best fan bases in the world, so that'll be cool for the first game. If my number gets called I'll be ready to go, but it's nothing I'm stressing about.
"Really for me, it's to not overthink and just going out and playing. Keeping the calm, composure, mind that I was blessed with. An environment like that, it'll get the blood flowing but it's going to be all about just keeping composure, going out there and doing what I've been coached to do."